The Appeals Commission of the International Rugby Federation has rejected on Monday the appeal filed by Spain after its exclusion from the 2023 World Cup in France for fielding an ineligible player during qualifying, World Rugby announced.
The Commission thus ratified World Rugby's decision to withdraw Spain from next year's World Cup after considering that South African prop Gavin Van den Berg did not meet the criteria to play for Spain.
Van den Berg was lined up during the matches against the Netherlands (victory 43-0 in 2020 and 52-7 in 2021), during Tournament B, qualifying for the World Cup. The player would not have met the condition of spending three continuous years in Spain without having been out of the country for more than 60 days since his competitive debut in September 2018 to be eligible.
The Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) expelled Alcobendas, Van den Berg's club, from the Spanish league on May 26, considering that three members of the club manipulated the dates of entry and exit in Spain in the player's passport so that he could meet the eligibility criteria.
At the end of April, an independent judicial commission imposed a fine of 25,000 pounds ($31,463), a five-point deduction and, as a consequence, the country's expulsion from the World Cup. This decision led Alfonso Feijoo, president of the Spanish Rugby Federation (FER), to announce his intention to resign from the position and the presentation of an appeal rejected on Monday.
The Appeals Commission "examined all the new documentary evidence (presented by Spain) and decided not to admit it" considering that "it had not adequately explained why this evidence had not been available after a reasonable investigation before the original hearing".
Added to this is that "the new evidence presented was not only incomplete but also contained accusations against the player and other people related to the alteration of a photocopy of a national identity document" that is being investigated by "the corresponding competent bodies of the Spanish jurisdiction.
The Commission's decision "is final and mandatory, without the right to appeal," recalls World Rugby, so Spain is left out of the World Cup.